My Contemporary Issues class recently discussed tableau photography. Tableau photographs depict scenes either inspired by previously created art (paintings, plays, etc…) or made up by the photographer. One photograph in the textbook stood out to me the most: “The Way Home” by Tom Hunter. I am attracted to photographs that deal with deeper issues, photos that are a little darker than the norm. “The Way Home” depicts a girl who has drowned (or is drowning??). A discussion that will always exist regarding art is the question of who defines art: the artist or the viewers. The artist makes his/her art with intention, but the viewers may not always interpret what was intended. They may interpret something different based on personal experience and/or taste, or they might not feel anything at all and move on. When I first laid eyes on “The Way Home”, I immediately thought of a scene from the movie “Anne of Avonlea” in which Anne is recreating Alfred Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott.” My textbook cited Tom Hunter’s inspiration as Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” who ultimately drowns. The Lady of Shalott also drowns. It is fascinating how a scene depicting a female character I had never heard of reminded me of a personal experience involving a female character with the same fate. In this case, I interpreted the photograph based on a personal experience, but my interpretation ended up correlating with the photographer’s intention. That, readers, is an artist’s dream. After all of that rambling, my point is to keep a clear mind when viewing art. You never know what emotions and/or memories will awaken. Expect the unexpected!
For those of you who are interested, my Contemporary Issues textbook is “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” by Charlotte Cotton: http://www.amazon.com/The-Photograph-Contemporary-Art-World/dp/0500204012
• Please support photographer Tom Hunter by visiting his website
Stay open-minded readers!
– Lauren Michele 🙂
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“She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.” – Alfred Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott